Friday, 26 August 2016

Depress Yourself: A Vague Review

Words on GCSEs by our expert on pretense, Abdi Bennett...

People looking down at their shoes and their shoes are wet. Wet with the crystalline tears of teenage angst. In the grasp of their convulsing fingers a slew of information. GCSE results they call them. For a sizeable few such scenes of emotions are not too far from reality. Why then, you may ask, is there all this fuss over (as somebody somewhere probably once said) "a bunch of self-important capital letters"?

Personally, I stopped caring about it all. I barely slept at night - everything takes on a new florescence after 2 a.m; everything is more fluid. I slept through chunks of the many pointless mocks (who were they mocking? - still the question plagues me), when I wasn't sleeping, my facial expressions were contorted by delirium. I sat through the harassment typical of lessons where the teacher isn't doing anything but would like to feel they are, their sharp reprimands yearning for a cattle prod. Sometimes I looked out of the window to see the hideous protrusion of red brick grow, like worthless crystals in a cave. The builders gave off hints of dank, sometimes.

Slowly, everyone's face collapsed into a television screen, tuned to static. For what seemed an age, nobody really talked. Maybe they did when I had my back turned and my ears covered, but I'm none the wiser. People held on to the ghosts of past conversations, as time bade the ghosts to slip through their fingers. The jellies shrank. I didn't care. I wasn't lazy. I just flatly didn't care. Maybe you'd call that laziness but what am I to do about that? At some indistinct point, I had grown sick of it all; the dull terror of realising that I had forgotten to tuck in my shirt no longer held any allure. Distraction was not my problem. I did little in the way of video games/parties/drugs/a life/girlfriends/music festivals/sleepovers/weddings/funerals/legal entanglements (delete as appropriate).

I just fundamentally, did nothing. I went to McDonald's a lot, to drink pink slime-shakes and listen to the pop music and do nothing. At home I listened to music, curled up and did nothing. Hell, I didn't even watch Archer. I did no homework and it is either through the apathy of my teachers or a failure of the system that I received few detentions for it. I was late and saw many lunch times
gobbled up by the Hoxha bunkers. When I emerged from those stale depths, I saw that the jellies had again decreased in size. In the endless sludge of lessons, teachers droned on about revision, dispensing platitudes and tired quotes freely. Por ejemplo, "Harrumph! In my youth" - we doubted he had truly had one - "we would revise to the sweet and sticky point of mental constipation." The rousing, booming tones that spelt "Good morning Vietnam!" My personal favourite, however, was
"we need memes, not ablutions!" Of course, quite a few of them were carted off frothing at the mouth, but the jolly glint in the eyes of a nameless SLuT told me that this was a regular part of "exam season".

I didn't revise as much as I was supposed to, but truthfully, I had no desire to 'discern the inner nature' of so-called mental constipation. Besides, I think I heard somewhere that you were supposed to have learnt whatever useless information deemed appropriate for your impressionable adolescent brain before you revised it. It's funny that, because with all the frantic rushing through endless worksheets, it was very hard to learn anything. It was especially hard because most of it was deprived of context. Who wants to learn about the minutiae of Khrushchev's nasal hair? Not me. One thing I did manage to learn is that red and blue, in suitable conditions, can be the same colour. Until you require details on these conditions, farewell.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

No Post Haste

Hampstead seems to be setting a new trend for results this year, but not a 5-year trend, but rather one for not reporting them at all. Despite it being GCSE Results Day today, the school nor any of the local papers reported the school-wide results, as they failed to do last week with Hampstead's A-level results.

Again, the school did not attract a single online article from the local press, only today having the A-level results from last week published in the Ham & High (see Trash passim), suggesting we will have an idea of how well (or how badly) the school has done sometime next Thursday.

The only indicator that the school even had results was a flimsy article left today on the school's website, praising the students' "fantastic" and "tremendous" results. Without knowing what they are, we cannot say if they truly are as superlative as the school makes out; knowing the media machine that is Hampstead School, we think perhaps not.

Just to make the article truly Hampsteadean in nature, there was a confusion between singular and plural followed by the ever-cringe-inducing line "your personal Olympics". The school did state that "results once again showed an improvement on the previous year against all indicators"; seen as the A-level results improved only marginally in some areas - and got worse in others - the school's use of 'improvement' may be exaggerated. We'd also like to know what 'indicators' the school were using to forecast bad results; the fact that its Hampstead? That the last two years have been a break from the 5-year-trend? That Jacques Szhouldistayorshouldigokowski is still headteacher?

Post Haste

Exactly a week after A-Level Results Day, Hampstead's school-wide results were published in today's Ham and High.

Despite keeping completely silent on the day, and the week after, the school's results were shown in a league table no less, placing them in the bottom third of local schools. The school still has yet to publish any results themselves, the website only today featuring a three-sentence ‘article’ that didn’t actually specify any of the “tremendous” results achieved. Or, rather, not achieved.

Despite the number of A*-A's being up by 4.4% on last year's 10% and A*-B being up by 5%, the number of much-sought-after A*-C fell on last year from 61% to 56%. Equally, the number of A*-E fell by 5% from 97% last year to 92% this year, meaning 8% of A-levels entered by students failed to achieve a grade at all.

This polarisation of A-level results suggests that, unlike in other years, students at Hampstead are either doing very well or not well at all, almost a tenth of sat subjects failing to qualify. This could be due to the numerous changes to the education system in recent years, many of which coming into place this year and the next, or simply the school’s ever-growing lack of regard for education.

Hampstead's inability to publish their results was not helped by the local press. Despite having a journalist taking photographs and details of students on the day (last Thursday), no articles featured in today's Ham and High about Hampstead and how their A-level students had done, nor on their website either. The Camden New Journal wasn’t so good themselves either, featuring photos and news from only four of the Camden sixth forms. Once again, selective editing seems to have negated the local comprehensive.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Naughty Jacqweasel Says Mean Things to Vicky

Fairly recently, our noble leader and righteous commander appeared once again on TV. This particular appearance centred around his ability as a talking Head (very funny. -Ed) and his rather negative opinion on the matter of parents taking children out of school for holidays during term time, which is ironic since the interview took place on a school day, when he should have also been in school - you know - doing his job. Despite what we think of his ability to do his job, he is still paid by the taxpayer to be in school in term time.

During the BBC interview, the Head fought tooth-and-nail for the right of schools to have high attendance figures, something he is evidently invested in, although he acknowledged that (£120 Local Authority enforced) fines were a "blunt instrument". He insisted that they "are working", citing low absence figures.

For someone who is claims that "a week off primary school can certainly affect the achievement and life chances of a young person", though, the Head appears to be oddly at ease with sending pupils home, regardless of the looming proximity of examinations, to change because they lack 'full school uniform' (i.e. the worst black shoes money can buy, an ironically expensive blazer and a regulation 'HS' armband). Once again, the Head's opinion that "every minute is a learning minute" seems to be at odds with his actions when he does turn up for school.

Expanding upon this idea, Jacques said also that "what [educators] can't do is replace 25 hours of teaching by a professional" and that "the idea of catching up is in itself a nonsense", which rather undermines all the countless catch-up and revision sessions the school puts on every year in time for exams, as well as any well-meaning student who has, through no fault of their own, missed school and is trying to get back up to speed. Surely a school system in which an attendance of 99.57% (one week of absence throughout the entirety of primary school per the Head's claim) has an effect warranting discussion is a flawed school system, especially when the national average is several percentage points below this. A system that is so rigidly inflexible to the point it penalises those who are forced by circumstance to miss school.

Unable to shed his penchant for shoehorned terminology and cliché sound bites, the Head talked frequently of a "cumulative impact" throughout the interview. He did not say what this actually meant, so we can only assume he was talking about the impact on a student's education from the amount of days off over a given time period. Either that, or the total damage asteroids cause. Seen as he was arguing against students being taken out of school for blocks of time, such as a week, rather than individual days, his persistence in the use of the term 'cumulative' seems redundant.

The conflict of interest in asking a man whose only known allegiance is to the league tables about attendance is glaring.  Taking the self-preserving stance of dodging direct questions, the distinctly uncaptivating Head offers no insight whatsoever, and is simply there to fill a seat and quash any suggestions that anything other than 100% attendance is "regular".


DISCLAIMER: This article is a critique of a BBC interview with the Head, and so any criticisms are the opinions of the writer. That said, all of them are logically valid claims, unlike the ones the Head normally makes.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

LEAKED Exam Questions from this year's Exams

With all students receiving their exam results this week, we thought it was about time to look back at some of the questions featured in the papers, so the year below can cheat on their mocks.

Biology
-What does the fox say?

Chemistry
-If I mix 10 grams of Diacetylmorphine with 15 grams of Desoxyn, how high will I get?
-Abdi has dispersed a noxious vapour into the air behind the bikeshed at a rate of one puff every five seconds. A teacher stands 10m away. What is the likelihood the teacher can smell it?

Geography
-Abdi has gotten lost; he is no longer in his endz. Use the map provided by Messrs Abdi, Abdi, Abdi & Abdi to guide him back to his endz without encountering any hoodrats.

Government & Politics
-Under Prime Minister Corbyn, which political commentator would become part of the curriculum? (Marx to be given to all candidates)
-You have 20 hours to complete the coursework entitled: “The Chilcot inquiry”. What is the likelihood we ever receive this coursework?

P.E
-What is the correct spelling of ‘walk’? (a) ‘walk’, (b) ‘wark’, (c) ‘waulk’ (d) ‘run’

Philosophy

Psychology 
-This exam lasts for two hours. And how does that make you feel?

Mathematics
-Jay is an avid maths nerd, and he has 99 problems to solve. What problem, as a maths nerd, ‘ain’t one’?
-Show that sin(x)/cos(x)=tan(x). Alternately, explain to the examiner in great detail how it is not the case and how the exam must be wrong.

Medicine
-When I do this, does it hurt?
And now?
And now?
...And now?

Music
-How long? How long must we sing this song? How long? How long? 
-What's love got to do, got to do with it?
-Should I stay or should go?